Torsten Körner’s documentary “Die Unbeugsamen”, screened in theaters this week, traces the passionate and prolonged struggle of West German women for a permanent and equal place in political life. Examples of gender discrimination are particularly topical. One of the protagonists of the film is Professor Herta Däubler-Gmelin (78), who was a member of the German Bundestag from 1972 to 2009 and from 1998 to 2002 at the Federal Ministry of Justice. André Wesche spoke to him.

: Prof. Däubler-Gmelin, the film “The Unyielding” impressively shows how women found their way into the Bundestag and had to assert themselves there the hard way. The reactions and statements of men today are often to the shame of others. Looking back, do you wonder how you endured it?

Herta Däubler-Gmelin: From today’s perspective, you see something like this with a mixture of indignation, emotion and humor. When I arrived in the Bundestag in 1972, I was already used to a lot of things, for example studying, with teachers who were a little dusty, strange or even more backward. And by an audience that fundamentally did not perceive women as equal people. In this regard, only certain parts seemed particularly scandalous to me at the time. In a way, you found it normal. But over time, we became more and more angry and defended ourselves more consciously.

Which politician did you know at the time as being particularly progressive?

My first meeting with Willy Brandt, then mayor-governor of Berlin, was very interesting for me in 1963. After all, he was the “boss” of the board of directors of my university, that is to say of the board. administration of the Free University of Berlin, to which I belonged as a student representative. Even then, it seemed very modern to me. In this regard, I also found funny my admired friend Erhard Eppler, who was definitely progressive when you think of his Third World politics or his environmental politics. He was completely emancipated in his head when it came to women, but in his books – that’s how we raised him – he kept falling back on the old patterns: boys just play with blocks. building and machines and girls, of course, with dolls and doll strollers. For me, it belongs to the “Entertainment and humor” department.

How personally were you harassed at the time?

(laughs) You know what? Nonstop! For example when I was elected to the Bundestag for the first time. On this occasion, the deputies must be photographed “officially”, of course dressed chic, with their hair and their make-up. While I was waiting for my date, a secretary of state came out, patted me on the shoulder, and said, “Well, have you already chosen which man you want to fish here?” I was moved by anger and fun at the same time because it was so obvious he didn’t care who I was, as I was then married for five years and the proud mother of a little one. very cute girl.

What did you think of the #MeToo campaign?

I think it’s good that women can finally talk about being sexually harassed or raped. It took a lot of effort in the 1970s and 1980s to convince the police and the courts that they needed to be treated properly, which was not the case then. Rape and harassment are crimes of power, they do not come from women. Women are the victims – it was very difficult for a lot of male brains …

What do you personally think of quota regulation in politics and business?

That’s a good question: you are addressing a woman who has been extremely active in introducing a quota system for the SPD. We, the women of the SPD, have fought for years for this important decision. I will summarize briefly. The quota is a cane, so to speak. Every woman wants to be chosen in recognition of her own personality and good performance. But since we know that the general devaluation of women existed in politics and in the party then and still existed in many areas today, we need such “crutches”.

One of the first female ministers of the Federal Republic of Germany, Aenne Brauksiepe, who was Federal Minister for Families and Youth from 1968 to 1969, says in the film: “Long live the difference”. Today there is a trend of increasing gender equality. Where to find healthy mediocrity here?

Oh, I’m not for mediocrity at all! I stand for every person, whether female, male or diverse, sexually oriented in one way or another, thinking that way or thinking differently, not only viewed as an individual, but also recognized and respected . This is the difference between a holistic assessment – including equality – and the actual recognition of diversity. Today, as the modern term “diversity” implies, we are much further ahead. And that’s the way it should be. Everyone has dignity, everyone is different. Our equality is that we are all different. This is a point that we need to remember from time to time and act on it.

Would you have thrown in the towel if you had been told at the start of your political career that there would still be no real equality in a reunited Germany by 2020?

No, I do not think so. If you ask me about women and unification: in the fall of 1989 and in the spring of 1990, I had a lot of conversations with the great active civil rights activists in the former GDR. And I practically begged her, “Organize yourself as women, or you’ll go down completely.” But they always answered me with a little compassionate smile: “Yes, you women in the West must have done that. We don’t need that, we’re strong. It’s different with us.” It was already predictable at the time that this would unfortunately turn back the clock. So I am not very surprised that we are not further today. But despite everything we are making good progress, so I’m in a good mood too. The younger generation of women are also realizing that they have to do something. My daughter said to me: “We don’t have your problems”. She was right, because we have indeed achieved a lot in the last 50 years in education and in the professions. But women are still not valued as individuals with their talents as they should be. That’s why the boys are fighting now, that’s good.

In the GDR, women were in fact much more emancipated. Could we at least have learned something from the Orient here?

We could have learned a lot from the East. But Mr Schäuble, who at the time mainly wore his pants when negotiating the union, did not want them. M. Krause, M. de Maizière and the others who contributed on the GDR side did not put in enough effort – or succeeded. We only “saved” paragraph 218 because we gathered the editors of all the major Bonn women’s magazines and made a huge argument. Otherwise, even that wouldn’t have worked. Much about emancipation in the GDR deserved to be recognized, but in the political arena, women in the GDR had little to say. Name a woman who is important to me – besides Margot Honecker! It is true that emancipation was much greater in the economic field, women were much stronger here. But, they paid for it with a lot of double burden, because family work was not for the men there either. To put it mildly, I haven’t found that ideal either.

Do you also see the photos of old Bonn in the film with some sadness?

Of course, with some emotion. At the time, everything was more manageable, slower, much less rushed and much more personal than what I could determine in my Berlin years. Speed ​​and with it impersonality have increased dramatically.

You worked on a “crime scene” and a movie. Do you have an affinity for the film medium?

(laughs) Yes, I did. And it was a lot of fun too. I only took part in both films because I am extremely curious and wanted to see how people work on a set. I am also friends with Christof Wackernagel, who played in “A man for every key”. I got to see how Henry Hübchen and the other great actors worked. I came to “Tatort” because I am friends with the author Felix Huby. But I can’t play, I admire the artists.

Herta Däubler-Gmelin

The daughter of the German diplomat and future mayor of Tübingen, Hans Gmelin, was born on August 12, 1943 in the Slovak capital, Bratislava.

After graduating from high school in Tübingen, she studied history, law and political science in Tübingen and Berlin and obtained her doctorate in 1975 on a subject of labor law. She then worked as a lawyer in Stuttgart and then in Berlin. In 1969 she married lawyer Wolfgang Däubler, with whom she had two children.

A member of the SPD since 1965, she successfully ran for the German Bundestag in 1972. She was chairman of the legal committee there from 1980 to 1983 and vice-chairman of the SPD parliamentary group from 1983 to 1993. From 1994 to 1998, she was president of the legal committee there. served as spokesperson for the legal policy working group and legal advisor to the SPD parliamentary group.

In the first federal cabinet of Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, she held the Department of Justice from 1998 to 2002, after which she no longer applied for a cabinet post.

During her tenure, she advocates a comprehensive amendment of the German Civil Code (BGB) in the law of obligations, which will enter into force on January 1, 2002. This is one of the most ambitious reforms of the Civil Code since its entry into force on January 1, 1900. The law on civil partnership entered into force in 2001 with the intervention of Däubler-Gmelin. At the end of the 16th legislature of the German Bundestag, she resigns from her mandate.

In 1995, she was appointed honorary professor and taught at the Otto Suhr Institute of the Free University of Berlin. Since October 2011, she has been visiting professor at the Chair of Systematic Theology at RWTH University of Aachen. (tk)